Temporary Staffing Pros and Cons

Road sign reading "Temp staffing"

Temporary staffing dates back to the 1940’s, when businessman William Kelly began outsourcing professional services like administrative and clerical work. His temporary employees, who came to be known as “Kelly Girls,” were so popular that the term became widely used for temp workers across all industries, regardless of the work being done or the gender of the staffer. 

Now, hiring temporary employees has become commonplace among businesses looking to respond to fluctuating demand or cover short-term staffing shortages. Temporary staffing can be a viable strategy to reduce hiring costs and bridge staffing gaps during uncertain times—but is it right for you?

Here, we’ll cover the biggest pros and cons of hiring temporary employees to help you decide whether using temps is the right move for your organization. 

How Does Temporary Staffing Work?

When you enlist temporary employees, you’ll typically go through a temporary staffing agency. The agency will work to understand your needs and fill the required positions from its network of temporary staffers. 

These employees are actually employed by the staffing agency, not the company where they will be working; the company “leases” the labor from the agency as part of its staffing agreement. This keeps onboarding time to a minimum and eliminates the need for the company to complete lots of new hire paperwork for employees who may only be around for a few months. It also enables the temporary workers to receive benefits like health insurance as employees of the staffing agency, since most companies don’t offer benefits to non-permanent staffers. 

Pros of Temporary Staffing

1. Near-instant staffing

Once you’ve established a relationship with a staffing agency, bringing on new temp workers can happen in as little as a day or two. At 4 Corner Resources, for example, we aim to deliver a qualified candidate for any role quickly. 

Since your HR department doesn’t have to deal with the typical new hire paperwork like tax forms, contracts and benefits selection, the temporary staffer can get straight to work almost immediately. This allows you to respond in near-real-time to fluctuations in workload and changing market conditions, helping your company to maintain its competitive edge. 

2. Only pay for what you need

We hear from many businesses that could use some extra help, but don’t quite have the workload to fill a full 40-hour workweek. In such cases, hiring a full-time staffer even at an entry-level wage isn’t cost-effective. 

Hiring temporary employees, on the other hand, allows you to pay only for what you need, scaling temps’ hours up or down depending on your workload. This is a great way to keep labor costs manageable while scaling your business and keeping up with your customers’ demands. 

3. Cover staffing shortages

There are all kinds of reasons you might face a staffing gap. People quit with no notice, become ill, need to respond to family emergencies, and even pass away. Unexpected absences are simply part of doing business. Temporary employees are ideal for covering gaps in your staffing chart, especially when they happen unexpectedly. 

Temporary staffing can also bridge the gap when a team member steps away but plans to return in the future, like when someone takes maternity leave or takes a vacation longer than a few weeks. 

4. Offers a “trial run”

How many times have you wished you could take candidates for a “test drive” before committing to hire them full time? With temporary staffing, it’s a possibility. While some positions are filled with the understanding that they’re strictly for the short term, others come with the possibility of full-time employment if things go well. 

Working with a person on a temporary basis before you hire them directly gives you a chance to better assess their effectiveness in the role and see how they fit as part of your larger team. It also offers you a way to test out different job functions, like a new role you’re thinking of adding as a full-time position, to ensure they make sense as part of your operations. 

5. Access to specialized skills

Whether it’s a big new project that requires niche expertise or a specific business pain point you’re looking to solve, you may find yourself in need of a specialized skill no one on your workforce currently has. Temporary staffing can help you access such skills in an affordable way. 

When we think of the stereotypical temp, we usually envision administrative and clerical work. In fact, though, temporary staffing can be leveraged to fill almost any business need, from finance to creative to technology, in a more cost-effective way than hiring someone full time. 

Cons of Temporary Staffing 

1. May require more training time

Temporary staffing is just that: a temporary fix. The more you rely on temporary labor, the more people you have to train and time you have to invest in making sure the work is done correctly. At a certain point, it becomes ineffective to keep training temporary people for a job that should really be a permanent one. 

To make temporary employees work for you, be sure to analyze the role on a regular basis to ensure that it’s A) still filling the need you originally intended, and B) hasn’t expanded in scope into something that would be more appropriate as a full-time position. 

2. Less time to vet candidates

Since you’re not making a permanent commitment to a temporary employee, you may be less likely to invest the same amount of time screening and qualifying them as you would a full-timer. This means you might settle for someone who’s purely “okay” for a job rather than holding out for the perfect fit. 

In some cases, this is a reasonable trade-off for being able to move quickly and cover staffing needs fast. In others, though, like those involving sensitive information or direct client contact, you’ll want to slow down and make sure all the necessary boxes are checked before saying yes to a temp. 

3. Culture fit can be a challenge

Another potential downside of hiring temporary employees quickly is that they won’t all be the perfect fit for your company culture. This may result in some temps who don’t quite jibe with your office environment or who have difficulty collaborating with other team members. 

This concern can be alleviated by choosing a qualified staffing partner, who will take your company culture into consideration when selecting temporary employees to send your way. 

4. Long-term planning is more difficult

It’s common management knowledge that it takes anywhere from a few months to a full year for new hires to become proficient enough in their role to make meaningful contributions to the company. Temporary staffers, unfortunately, often don’t reach this threshold, so it’s tough for them to really become an ingrained part of your team. This can make long-term planning a challenge in terms of workflows and team member responsibilities. 

Further, you’ll need to bear in mind that not all temps are looking for full-time employment as their end goal. Some enjoy the flexibility of nonstandard work hours or the variety of working a few different jobs. This matters because it’s a temporary arrangement on their end, too; temporary staffers may be less reliable or may be more likely to jump ship for a better opportunity than someone who’s employed full time. 

Hiring temporary employees, like hiring independent contractors, comes with its own set of legal considerations you’ll want to be aware of. Mainly, you must be careful not to blur the line between temporary and full-time employment. 

First and foremost, employment attorneys advise companies to cap temporary employment at six months. After that point, you should seriously consider hiring the person as a part-time or full-time employee. If you don’t, you may open yourself up to legal pitfalls associated with treating temporary workers unfairly by not offering them benefits.

Next, even though a temporary worker hired through a staffing agency isn’t your employee, you’re still liable for providing them the same protections from workplace harassment and discrimination as you would any in-house employee, along with a safe and hazard-free work environment. 

Finally, be sure to read your staffing agreement carefully to ensure that it clearly outlines the roles and responsibilities of your company and the agency, like who is responsible for covering unemployment contributions and completing I-9’s for the worker. 

Solve Staffing Shortages with a Qualified Temporary Staffing Agency

The right staffing agency can make working with temporary employees easy and hassle-free. We offer temporary and contract staffing solutions that help businesses of all sizes hire on demand and meet their operational needs. Whether you’re dealing with a special project, experiencing rapid growth or have seasonal hiring needs, we can connect you with skilled, reliable workers to fill the necessary gaps. 

Get started hiring temporary employees by scheduling your free consultation today.

About Pete Newsome

Pete Newsome is the president of 4 Corner Resources, the nationally acclaimed staffing and recruiting firm he founded in 2005. His mission back then was the same as it is today: to do business in a personal way, while building an organization with boundless opportunities for ingenuity and advancement. When not managing 4 Corner’s growth or spending time with his family of six, you can find Pete sharing his sales and business expertise though public speaking, writing, and as the host of the Hire Calling podcast.